Our Favourite Looks Of 2021

A glimmer of the fabulous returned to rescheduled red carpets this year, as celebrities found confidence and escapism in surrealist shapes and archival treasures


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FAREWELL 2021

The year summarised in some of the head-turning looks that caught our eye, from the Oscars to the rescheduled Met Gala in September, celebrity looks communicated everything from attention-seeking surrealism (here's looking at you Schiaparelli, Thom Browne, Valentino) to the new vanguard of responsible red-carpet dressing (Harris Reed, ERL, Bode NYC).

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AMANDA GORMAN

"The year began with a sunny yellow Prada coat and red satin headband from America's Youth Poet Laureate as she performed her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration ceremony for president Joe Biden in January.

What a powerful way to make a statement and to mark the new era of politics for a divided nation. As Amanda explained to Vogue, 'fashion brings a distinct visual aesthetic to language', displaying her own understanding of how fashion plays a role in communicating ideas and thoughts." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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JOSH O'CONNOR

"One of the best dressed men this year, Josh O’Connor has excellent style, straddling black tie and more low-key events with a cohesive, refreshing aesthetic. His choices are creative without feeling cliche, costume-y or overtly whacky — like this just-retro-enough look (custom Dunhill) from the Met Gala. And his clothes always fit perfectly." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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READ: New York Fashion Week, The Met Gala & The Stunning Pursuit Of Identity

CYNTHIA ERIVO

"All lime and structure, Cynthia Erivo’s elegant Valentino Couture ensemble at the Golden Globes, finished with Wempe jewellery and a pair of elbow-grazing gloves, looked veritably twirl-worthy. A moment, too, for her seven-inch silver platforms that strolled underneath." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist

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DUA LIPA

"This classic Westwood corseted number (with a zip down the back) had its own lasting impact with a new generation of fans going particularly crazy for the designer's pearl choker made from 92 glass-based vegan pearls from Swarovski, strung and knotted by hand, and featuring Westwood's signature orb logo. Now dubbed the 'TikTok' necklace for its popularity on the social app, the look sparked a major revival on resale websites for Vivienne Westwood, setting the tone for fashion this year along the way." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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LIL NAS X

"A toile-printed gown with a wide pannier and open neckline by Italian designer Andrea Grossi saw rapper Lil Nas X float sartorially above his looks to date at the 2021 BET Awards. There was a gilded sea of embroidered crystals and beads, too." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist

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LADY GAGA

"Lady Gaga’s commitment to flamboyant drama and Italiano style for the promotion of House of Gucci has been a real highlight this year. Belissimo!" — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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ISABELLE HUPPERT

"The legendary French actress gives a lesson in summer dressing, wearing a silk shirt tucked into a skirt from Giorgio Armani while out on the promo trail during the Venice Film Festival in September." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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ASAP ROCKY

"I loved this when ASAP Rocky arrived — fashionably late and on the arm of Rihanna — at the Met Gala, and I loved it even more when its provenance came out a few days later, with someone spotting the bespoke ERL look and recognising the quilt as a long-ago-donated family heirloom made by their grandmother — a story that speaks to the value of craft and textiles, and how small the world can be." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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RIHANNA

“Speaking of Rihanna, ASAP's date arrived in all her splendour wearing this dramatic Balenciaga fall/winter couture look, teamed with Telma West jewellery and a Tyler Ellis bag.

In addition, she wore Bulgari High Jewellery and archival diamonds to add even more high shine to her enveloping couture. My favourite part? The black beanie adorning her head — the accessory transforming the look completely into one that simply says bad girl Riri has arrived." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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LORDE

"Those with long tresses admired from afar as Lorde wore her hair as a scarf at the Guggenheim International Gala. Her sienna-hued gown from Dior perfectly complemented her brunette locks neatly tucked and tied." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist

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YOUN YUH-JUNG

"Deservedly winning Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Minari, the South Korean legend wore a Marmar Halim dress, Chopard Haute Joaillerie, Roger Vivier clutch and Bottega Veneta shoes to the Academy Awards. Pannier pockets and clean-cut navy evoke a simple elegance that cuts through the noise." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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CYNTHIA ERIVO

"Cynthia Erivo wears clothes so well, consistently choosing bold and interesting pieces, she navigates a diverse range of looks this year that all felt genuine. She also achieves the feat of never having an outfit wear her. This Valentino Haute Couture look presents even better here (at A Grammy Salute To The Sounds of Change Special) than it did on the runway — at once classical and futuristic, it’s a dazzling ensemble for an equally illuminating performance of Imagine." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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HARRY STYLES

"The boa. The tweed. Transcendent. Harry Styles brought his head-turning taste with aplomb in a purple-and-green ensemble matched with flared brown cords and a sweater vest at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist

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STYLE FILE :Harry Styles' Most Fashionable Moments

JEREMY O. HARRIS

"Possibly my favourite look from the year, I loved how the American playwright, actor and philanthropist adds a sense of insouciance with this otherwise dramatic look created by Tommy Hilfiger, adding an operatic vibe to the great tradition of American sportswear." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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ZENDAYA

"Zendaya’s nice-top-and-skirt combo delivered in fluorescent scuba, silk, organza and taffeta from Valentino Haute Couture at the Critics’ Choice Awards, with Bulgari earrings and rings elevating a look more than one might think possible." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist.

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ZOE ROBBINS

"What better way to signal to everyone your time is now than in a lime green Valentino gown? The New Zealander makes a strong impact for both her acting and now as a style leader wearing this number to the London premiere of The Wheel of Time. Looking forward to seeing more great things from this talented actor in 2022." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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EMMA CORRIN

"Emma Corrin has been another standout this year in the style stakes — with outfits that span the weird and theatrical (like this Pierrot-inspired Miu Miu number for the Golden Globes) to androgynous Sloane-y looks. I can't wait to see what's on the cards for 2022." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

Photo / Miu Miu.

STYLE FILE :Emma Corrin's Most Fashionable Moments

TIMOTHEE CHALAMET & ZENDAYA

"This duo really delivered on the promotional trail for the long-awaited (and very good) new film adaptation of Dune. Both are fashion plates, and they nailed the brief at the London premiere — with Timothee Chalamet’s zipper-laden suit from Alexander McQueen complementing Zendaya’s sculptural Rick Owens gown. Divine." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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JAMIE XIE

"For the Venice Film Festival, the Bling Empire star wore a distinctive Roberto Cavalli gown from the designer's spring/summer 2005 collection, styled by super-stylist Law Roach on this occasion." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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TOMMY DORFMAN

"Tommy Dorfman looks so great in this Richard Quinn outfit; it feels fresh and modern, while also referencing costume history (a balance the designer is so deft at navigating) and I’ve been really enjoying her style choices this year." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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JONAH HILL

"It's been great to see the actor and filmmaker get into a groove of his own when it comes to personal style. This fun ERL shirt and jeans combo worn on Jimmy Fallon is a prime example of this."— Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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RIZ AHMED

"Riz Ahmed is of the most well-dressed men in the acting world, in my opinion (he wears a suit so well he should be the next Bond). This look is from his latest public outing. “I want to bring all the parts of myself,” he told the New York Times, about wearing a kurta to the L.A. premiere of his new film Encounter. The British-Pakistani actor makes thoughtful fashion choices, and this Prada look is one of his best." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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GRIFF

"This voluminous, whimsical Simone Rocha look is not an obvious red-carpet choice, which is what makes it more interesting to look at. Even better when it's perfectly worn by someone who also challenges the status quo through her sound and style — English singer Griff, wearing this dramatic ensemble to the British Fashion Awards in September." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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WHOOPI GOLDBERG

"Ruffles really defined 2021, and this look was peak flounce. Whoopi Goldberg is a pop culture icon (a word we don’t use often at Viva) and if anyone can pull off a vibrant, operatic Valentino look, she’s the one. It’s high fashion, it’s fun, and it’s unapologetic — and, best of all, she looked like she was having a wonderful time, walking the carpet alongside the label’s creative director Pier Paolo Piccioli." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

Photo / Getty Images

EMMA CORRIN

"In a tapestry of more-is-more chic, Emma Corrin wore Prada at the SAG Awards, including a mohair apron attached via a black belt like a fluffy romera, pipeline sleeves, and a satin and lace dress. A princess dress fittingly finished with chunky combat boots." — Julia Gessler, digital and production journalist

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LIZZO

"I like how Lizzo looks like she's having the time of her life. For this year's Grammy Awards she wore several great looks, but this iridescent Balmain cocktail dress with Stuart Weitzman sandals and Bulgari jewels only reinforces her star quality." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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LORDE

"This delicately embellished outfit from Bode used repurposed, antique pieces including the ultimate American symbol — pennies from 1890 onwards. The look is finished with a brilliant headpiece, yellow diamond earrings and hoops from Prounis jewellery. Another great collaboration with stylist Karla Welch." — Dan Ahwa

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READ: Fashioning an American Identity & More Key Notes For This Year’s Met Gala

RUTH NEGGA

"Vintage continues to be a way to make a statement on the red carpet — both visually and for what it represents about sustainability and consumption.

This opulent dress, worn by Ruth Negga to the Opening Gala for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A., is vintage Arnold Scaasi — a Canadian designer who opened his couture salon in 1964, and dressed first ladies and celebrities. Ruth’s stylist Karla Welch sourced the dress from Shrimpton Couture, an archive curated by Cherie Balch." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

Photo / Getty Images

AIDY BRYANT

"Adding her whimsical personality through her outfit, the SNL and Shrill actor and comedian stood out amongst the ubiquitous fishtail gowns at the Emmy Awards in this Simone Rocha number." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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ANDIE MCDOWELL

"If you haven't yet watched Andie in Netflix's Maid, I recommend adding it to your summer watch list. Stepping out in style in New York, this softly tailored suit from Paris Georgia was a nice surprise this year." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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THOMASIN MCKENZIE

"What a great year it has been for Thomasin. Tapping into the 60s era of her new film Last Night in Soho, the New Zealander is literally shining bright in this Gucci halter neck gown at the film's L.A. premiere.

No surprises if we see another 60s renaissance taking place in fashion — the era's psychedelic, unhinged moment of emancipation and a youthquake resurgence is a vibe that is resonating with many of us right now. Stay tuned as we also prepare to welcome the V&A's touring Mary Quant exhibition coming to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki over summer.

Photo / Getty Images

READ: Meet Thomasin McKenzie, The Magnetic Actor Having A Monumental Year

MICHAELA COEL

"Mood-enhancing yellow was an unexpected — though very welcome — red carpet trend this year, and no one wore it better than Michaela Coel at the Emmy’s in this zingy look by Christopher John Rogers, a designer who is enjoying a stellar trajectory (and rightly so)." — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

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READ: Michaela Coel's ‘I May Destroy You’ Is An Honest Portrayal Of Young Black Lives

QUANNAH CHASINGHORSE

"In amongst the varied interpretations of the Met Gala's theme this year of 'American Independence' it was Quannah in her turquoise jewellery and a Peter Dundas lamé gown who, by her presence alone, made a powerful impact. As a model and activist, she combined her two disparate worlds of fashion and her Native American heritage in a way that felt modern and could open up so much intergenerational conversation about treatment of Native Americans and POC communities living in America." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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BENEE

"If there was one artist whose style is in sync with everything happening in fashion on a local level, it's Benee. The winner of Best Pop Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards was wearing local designer Emma Jing and styled by Zara Mirkin. The look is the type of thing viral TikTok trend forecaster Agus Panzoni describes as 'avant apocalypse' (sculpting fabrics to body) — I just think it looks cool."— Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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READ: Rising Star Benee Takes Her Subversive Pop Music To The Next Level

TEEKS

"Seeing the confidence in Teeks as a performer and also his personal style has been exciting to witness over the years. Ever thoughtful about his choices, I liked the fact he chose to wear this TAV shirt with a simple white singlet and leather trousers to pick up his three awards at the Aotearoa Music Awards for Best Solo Artist, Best Soul/RnB Artist and Best Maori Artist." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

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READ: Teeks On His New Album And Unpacking Toxic Masculinity

TAMI NEILSON

"Winner of Best Country Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards, I appreciated the message Tami displays here, using her platform to raise concerns around the inequity of the music industry, and unrepresented womxn artists. On her skirt is a message of the need for equality with a quote from bell hooks that read, "I will not have my life narrowed down", fittingly on the week of the iconic feminist's sad passing." — Dan Ahwa, fashion director

Photo / Getty Images.

READ: Soul Singer Tami Neilson On Carving Her Own Career Path


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